Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wood Splittin'

This is my log splitter.
Phoebe suggested getting it a few years ago, when she saw it under the close-out table at a big box store. Her dad, who lives with us, was doing a lot of the wood splitting, and she thought he would appreciate not having to swing the maul through the 5 cord we put up every fall.
She was right, he was very happy with it. I was a bit dubious. It was a few years ago: I was younger then, and preferred to split my wood the old-fashioned way. That lasted a little while, then I got over it. I don't feel as woodsman-like, but I don't hurt nearly as much.

I do have a cautionary tale, though, involving a new concept to me, that of the 'shear bolt.' A shear bolt is a soft bolt designed to break before a more expensive part gets damaged. The push plate on the splitter has shear bolts holding it down.
This is a point of a lot of force, and the bolts break before the plate bends. That is, the bolts break if you replace them with shear bolts. When you think "hmm, that bolt broke awfully easily, so maybe I need a stronger bolt" you kinda defeat the whole idea. The bolt holds and the push plate bends and breaks. And instead of a quick trip to the hardware store, you are looking for a fabricator who can weld and bend it back into shape.
So, that lesson learned, and all stocked up on shear bolts, I was splitting away this fall. That was when I learned an other aspect of the shear bolt: When it breaks, like it is supposed to, the head of the bolt can leave the shaft with the velocity of a bullet.

Now, I am pretty good about wearing protective clothing.
I will even wear ear protection when using the splitter. But safety glasses? Not always on the top of my list. Fortunately this day, I was being good. Because the bolt head shot straight up, hit the top of my glasses, deflected into my forehead, then headed out into space. I don't think it would have hit my eye, but it may have split open my eyebrow. As it was, I got a little dent, a little dab of blood, and that was it. All in all, I got off pretty lucky.

I was thinking about this recently for two reasons. One, I just finished splitting this year's wood. I normally like to have it all in the shed by fall, but we had other things doing, and it was all under a tarp, so I figured I would do the rest when the weather was a bit cooler.
The other reason it was on my mind is that two of the other blogs we read have posts about wood. Neither are their most current post, but I was catching up and read them both on the same day. If you don't read EagerGridlessBeaver or Farm Folly, you should check them out. They have very different takes on the same basic idea as our blog and are great reads.

1 comment:

  1. Safety can't be stressed enough, can it? Stihl makes a nice hard-hat with a built-in face guard and hearing protectors. You might want to put it on your wish list!

    I so want to buy Eric a log-splitter, but he won't hear of it. His winter hobby is splitting wood, the poor fool!

    Nothing beats a nice wood fire, though.


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